Twenty-five people want to become Lawrence's next city manager, and city commissioners say they are still hopeful they'll find the right person by early October.
The deadline for people to apply to become the city's next top executive was 5 p.m. Friday. The city's management search firm gathered the submitted applications Monday morning and reported that 25 people had met the deadline. Names of the applicants were not released.
"We're very fortunate that we've had a lot of interest in the job," said Mayor Mike Amyx. "But I expected that. Lawrence is a great community, and I think there are a lot of people who would like to be our city manager. I think it shows that we're a strong city."
City commissioners are scheduled to conduct an executive session Sept. 7 with members of Bennett Yarger Associates, the city's Massachusetts-based consulting firm. Commissioners may narrow the list of applicants to five or six finalists at that meeting.
Interviews with the finalists - which commissioners have said would likely take place in person and in Lawrence - could be conducted in the third or fourth week of September. Amyx said he then hoped the commission would be in a position to make a job offer in the first week of October.
City Commissioner Sue Hack said she was pleased with the interest the job opening had created.
"I think there has been a lot of interest in the job and in the community," Hack said. "It has its challenges, but if you are brave enough to be a city manager, you know that there are going to be challenges. That is probably why you go into the profession."
Commissioners have been seeking a new city manager since Mike Wildgen was asked by a majority of commissioners to resign in early March following concerns the city had not done an adequate job planning for growth and maintaining infrastructure. Wildgen had been the city's top non-elected official for 16 years.
Assistant City Manager David Corliss is the interim city manager. Corliss - who joined the city in 1990 and also runs the city's legal services department - confirmed Monday he was among those who applied to become the new city manager.
The city manager search has delayed the filling of two other top-level city positions. City commissioners have said they wanted to wait until a new city manager was hired before they filled the positions of planning director and director of utilities. The planning director position has been vacant since Linda Finger resigned at the beginning of the year. The utility position, which oversees the city's water and sewer operations, has been vacant since September when Roger Coffey retired. Both the planning and utility posts are being filled by staff members on an interim basis.